Saturday, August 11, 2012

Friday Baseball Post

Joe Sheehan tweets:
In 50 years, people are going to look back and be really confused by Davey Johnson's managerial record.
Here it is. I should say so: I said recently somewhere that he's been the best manager of his generation, and I'll stick with that -- better than Cox, better than LaRussa, better than Torre, certainly better than Piniella.

In sixteen seasons, he's been under .500 four times, three of them first years with a team (and one of those a partial season), one a very partial 42 games with the Mets. In his other seasons, he's finished second six times and first five times (and counting; the Nats would be six).

It's worth looking at each of his stops.

The Mets before he go there had seven straight sub-500 years, rising to 68-84; he took over and they went 90-72, and stayed excellent until he left early in 1990. They did rally and finish well that year, after which they were sub-500 the next six years.

The Reds had been up and down before him, including a good 1992. They started slow in 1993, hired him but did not respond, and then were excellent the next two years. After he left, they did not clear .500 the next three years.

The Orioles were pretty good in 1992-1994, mediocre in 1995, and then Johnson took over and they were excellent for two years; they've been bad ever since until now.

The Dodgers are his only weak spot; they actually got six games worse in his first year, and were just as good after he left.

And the Nats, you know about.

I always think of Davey Johnson as an Earl Weaver guy, and he was, Hank Bauer had the O's for his first 4+ seasons. His managers in Atlanta were Eddie Mathews, Clyde King, and Connie Ryan. Then the tail end of his career was with Danny Ozark's Phillies and the Cubs, with of all people Herman Franks.

Also, his main minor league manager was Darrell Johnson, but he did play for Weaver in the minors, too.

He's not going to be a Hall of Famer, but if I had been hiring a manager any time in the last thirty years, he would have been my first choice.

3 comments:

  1. The sad thing is that he wasn't fired from Cincinnati for any on-field reasons. That only happened because Marge Schott didn't like that he was "living in sin" with his girlfriend. And possibly he didn't own enough Nazi memorabilia for her taste.

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  2. Hate to nitpick, but aren't you committing the same fallacy as those who pin an electoral loss on the quality of the candidate or blame the president for a bad economy? There might be some small effects at the margins, but generally managers don't make a significant difference. There may be good managers and bad managers, and Davey Johnson may fall in the latter category, but isn't comparing a team's record the years before and after he took over a fairly bad way to judge this?

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    Replies
    1. Well, I don't think it proves anything, but repeated cases of it are highly suggestive.

      I don't agree that managers don't make a significant difference, at least not all the time. Lots of manager stuff -- in-game tactics, lineup order -- doesn't matter much. But e.g. the Giants have given Belt 311 PAs, while giving ~175 to Pill and Huff...that's mostly manager, and that's a fairly big deal.

      There's plenty more. I think managers (plus pitching coaches, organization overall -- but managers are the ones mostly responsible) play a major role in breaking in young pitchers, and a lesser but still real role in breaking in young hitters.

      And I wouldn't entirely discount the possibility that they can help or hurt the team overall with leadership or lack thereof.

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